Saturday, November 12, 2022

Living in an AFib World

I was feeling out of sorts recently. I didn’t have the energy to stack cordwood with my grandson one Thursday afternoon. I was dizzy, light-headed and had to rest. I felt the same way the next morning while doing chores around the house. Something wasn’t right. So we took a trip to Urgent Care. They examined me and sent me to the ER.  That was on a Friday. I did not emerge from the hospital until Monday afternoon. My hospital stay lasted exactly 72 hours.

Long story short, after many tests they discharged me with a diagnosis of atrial fibrillation, often called AFib. It is a common type of heart arrhythmia, which means my heart is beating irregularly. Because I have no other risk factors besides age, my type of AFib is no big deal. My blood just needs to be thinned a bit to prevent blood clots. I was told I just had to live with the symptoms when they occur.

It seems like there are an increasingly number of ailments I have to “live with” these days. It is the geriatric theme song, “One More Thing to Live With.” Oh, the joys of aging! Anyway I had a follow-up appointment with my primary care physician a few days later, and I have an appointment with a cardiologist scheduled for next month.

During the process I learned about atrial fibrillation. AFib happens when the top chambers of the heart (the atria) beat rapidly, irregularly, and out of synch with the lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles). In my case my lower heart is plugging along at a steady 70 beats or so, while the top part of my heart is dancing like it is at a rave.

My physician explained that the atria are the heart’s natural pacemaker. She compared the atria to a conductor. Normally the ventricles take their cue from the atria. That works fine when the heart is functioning as it should. But in AFib the atria start racing, and the ventricles often rush to keep pace, sending the whole heart pounding as if it is running from a predator. Fortunately my heart does not follow instructions very well. My third grade teacher said the same thing.

Being who I am, I immediately saw a spiritual analogy. The world is running at a frantic pace. Our country is in AFib. Sometimes it feels like our country is going crazy. Our minds, emotions, and bodies follow suit. That is the problem. Our brains and bodies evolved during a simpler time. They were not designed for the complex stressors of modern culture. That is the reason for the high levels of anxiety and depression in our society.

Beneath all the fury of the world – including social media and political turmoil - is the slow steady beat of the Spirit. It is the rhythm of the Song of God. It is all a matter of which rhythm you listen to. Thoreau observed, “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”

Good advice! There are two levels of life. The upper level of emotions and thoughts are spinning out of control, while the lower level of the Spirit is doing just fine. There is no way to control outward stimuli or emotional reactions. The only other option is not to be governed by them. Let the world be as it is. Let emotions respond as they will. Let thoughts go where they will. All we need to do is keep our attention on the Spirit.

The good news is that this Spirit is the same Spirit that ultimately governs the universe. Its nature is Love. Its core is Peace. It is our Home. When our “heart” (not the physical organ but our spiritual center) is beating in rhythm with the heart of God, then all is right in our lives. That is “the peace that surpasses understanding.” That is the Kingdom of God. I say this from the bottom of my heart.

1 comment:

Deb Hoffman said...

From my heart to yours...thank you for sharing this. It always amazes me how you can take the everydayness of your life and turn it into a spiritual understanding. You are an inspiration!
Blessings, Deb